ANA landed the first Boeing 787 in Tokyo on Wednesday, continuing the U.S. manufacturer's dominance of Japan's aircraft market after long delays in delivering a jet that promises big fuel savings and other improvements.
The plane took off from Everett, Washington Tuesday morning to cheering workers after a three-year delay in bringing the new wide-body jetliner to market. Boeing missed the initial May 2008 delivery target and had repeatedly delayed its introduction because of problems in development.
The new jet is the first commercial airliner built using carbon fiber _ a strong, lightweight, high-tech plastic _ rather than the typical aluminum skin. It is quieter and uses about 20 percent less fuel than a comparably sized aluminum aircraft.
The 787 delivered to All Nippon Airways goes into service on Oct. 26 with a special charter flight from Narita International Airport to Hong Kong. ANA will begin using the 787 on regular domestic routes on Nov. 1.
Japanese companies played a major role in building the 787, accounting for 35 percent of its airframe structure, according to Boeing. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. produces the wings, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. makes part of the fuselage, and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. manufacturers the center wing box.
Boeing's relationship with Japan extends beyond the factory as well.
The Chicago-based company has an 85 percent share of Japan's commercial airplane market. Boeing aircraft make up the vast majority of both ANA and rival Japan Airlines fleets.
Airlines have ordered more than 800 of the planes that will compete with the Airbus A350. There are two models in the 787 class _ the 787-9 and the 787-9 _ and they seat 210 to 290 passengers depending on cabin configurations.
ANA, the world's eighth-largest airline by revenue, considers the 787 an important part of its global expansion efforts.
Because of its extended range, ANA plans to use it on a number of new long-haul routes that were not commercially viable because passenger numbers weren't sufficient to justify larger aircraft such as the Boeing 747.
The 787 cabin will have bigger windows and larger overhead compartments. ANA also says passengers will be more comfortable because air pressure during flights will be equivalent to an altitude of 6,000 feet instead of the conventional 8,000 feet.
"This plane is a symbol of the cooperation between two countries, U.S. and Japan, and also cooperation between Boeing and ANA," said ANA pilot Hideaki Hayakawa, who flew the 787 across the Pacific.
"This airplane has great potential for the future, and I feel that it will change things for the aviation industry."